Nigerian fintech startup Sproutly is a virtual banking app for children under the age of 17, providing digital savings products and a debit card with built-in parental control.
Founded in June 2021 by Pierre Nwoke, Maxwell Agu and Prince Akachi, Sproutly provides kids with an app-based savings account and linked debit card to allow them to save, manage and spend their money, while at the same time allowing parents to control outflows and set targets via a parents app.
Parents can also apply for overdrafts to serve kids immediate needs through the Sproutly Overdraft feature, with Sproutly also offering a tuition fee collection service called Bursary. Nwoke told Disrupt Africa the idea for the platform came about when he tried to open a savings account for his teenage brother in 2020.
“He was done with secondary school and preparing for university admissions, and I must say it was one hell of a journey to open a savings account for him being underaged. We ended up doing so after one year and using one of my banks and my debit card for the entire period he was trying to open an account,” Nwoke said.
“We also had major concerns as to how he managed funds – being the last child with a lot of older siblings had its perks for him and we never really paid attention to his spending habit until he was about getting into the university. That was when we realised we had to set some measures as to how he spends.”
Noticing there was no platform that allowed them to do so, and recognising that this was a challenge faced by many, Nwoke and the team set about building Sproutly.
“We took about three months researching pre-existing viable options and alternatives people use currently, like digital banks offering something close to what we wanted to build, and it was an amazing, eye-opening journey. Parents had an earful of experience to share,” he said.
“We had instances of parents who had children below the age of 18 schooling in the diaspora, parents who had kids that spent like money grew on trees, to parents who wanted a platform that would help educate kids financially. Others wanted access to products such as child-friendly loans and quick bailouts when they needed to provide for their kids. Then we stumbled upon the issue of tuition collections and debts.”
Sproutly was built to solve all this, initially focusing on a few core challenges, but the startup does have plans to expand the scope of its offering. The startup has been operating in extensive private beta, and has over 7,000 kids and 3,000 parents on its waitlist. Active in Nigeria initially, Sproutly wants to expand to Ghana and Kenya later this year. It offers a mix of free basic and premium plans, and is in the process of raising a pre-seed funding round.